Should we decriminalize drugs?
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION on the subject of drugs? Should they be banned outright – or completely decriminalised? Or maybe you feel that ’hard’ drugs – such as cocaine – should be banned whilst ‘soft drugs’ – such as cannabis – should be allowed? Also, what’s your definition of a ‘drug’? Should it also include the likes of alcohol and tobacco?
These are some of the questions that have been posed by members and supporters of the National Liberal Party on the party’s National Liberals ‘group page’ on facebook.
The debate was prompted by a link to a recent report (1) which noted that Portugal had decriminalised drugs – both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ – over 11 years ago. Despite dire warnings that “Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven” and that “usage rates among youths” would “surge”, the opposite seems to have been the case. Indeed, Portuguese officials and reports claim that the number of addicts has been halved and that “Portugal’s drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states.”
Critics of the report say it is deeply flawed. However, without being privy to all the facts and figures (and we accept that governments can and do ‘manipulate’ statistics to suit their own agenda – ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ anyone?) it’s hard to make a final judgement on these claims.
War on drugs?
However, what we can say for certain is that Britain’s so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has failed miserably. As one post noted not everyone can resist the lure of drugs so maybe the best way of handling it seems to be:
“decriminalisation because in that way we take out the crime, i.e. no benefit to the criminal to hook someone on it and the need to feed the habit by crime, i.e. not as expensive. We don’t spend trillions on fighting it anymore but simply a smaller proportion on education and rehabilitation. Those that become addicted need help rather than punishment (and that doesn’t work anyhow).”
As National Liberals we always strive to balance the rights and responsibilities of both the nation and the individual. For instance, the nation suffers because of the amount of money that the NHS – and other agencies – has to spend on dealing with addiction. On the other hand, we have to accept that many people will take the view that they can do what they want with their bodies – and to some extent, that includes ‘experimenting’ with various drugs.
Maybe a step in the right direction would be to recognise that whist many people take drugs not all of them will end up as junkies. As another post noted:
“There seems to be a misguided assumption that everyone who has used or is using drugs is a junkie. Millions of average people around the world who work 9-5, and some have families, go out on the weekend and use drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, amphetamines etc etc but they are not junkies but are we still going to label these people criminals?”
As can be seen by these comments, the National Liberal Party’s ‘group page’ on facebook is a place for serious, mature, informative and instructive debate. There’s no silly name-calling, threats, bombast or immature statements. Members and supporters are encouraged to say what they think, but think what they say. Sometimes one person may play ‘devil’s advocate’ – a process which enables us all to examine our views in great detail.
If you’re only interested in internet chatter, gossip and rumour, this definitely isn’t the place for you. However, if you enjoy reasoned debate and particularly like thinking ‘outside of the box’ then you’d be made most welcome.
Why not check us out today? To join the debate on Facebook, simply click here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Liberal-Party/160937907279184#!/groups/52739504313/
Date: August 30, 2012